UC Santa Barbara’s five executive branches of the Associated Students student government are comprised of the Associated Students Office of the President, Office of the Internal Vice President, Office of the External Vice President for Statewide Affairs, Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs and Office of the Student Advocate General. Together, these five branches of Associated Students (A.S.) student government provide services to assist UCSB students and the Isla Vista community.
Office of the A.S. President
As president of the student body for the 2021-22 school year, Yuval Cohen’s focus on assisting students centers around establishing new services and following through on those set by her predecessors.
Currently, the office is helping students struggling to find housing in conjunction with the I.V. Tenants Union and is working on setting up mental health town halls, according to Cohen. In addition, the office is continuing emergency COVID-19 grants and working to reallocate funding to specific grant programs for students in need. Although the Office of the President also works to serve as a liaison between the administration and the student body, Cohen said basic needs programs will remain a priority during her tenure.
In addition, Cohen encouraged students who are passionate about student government to apply for the Pearman Fellowship program, which allows incoming students to learn about the inner workings of A.S. through an executive branch. Her office will be taking on new fellows in winter quarter, but each executive office hosts a cohort of Pearman Fellows.
Office of the Internal Vice President — A.S. Senate
According to Bee Schaefer, the internal vice president of the A.S. Senate, the goal of her executive branch is, in its barest form, to “write legislation and communicate and represent its constituents.” This includes improving educational policies, academic policies and teaching quality as well as creating policies and resolutions that will promote those improvements. Schaefer, who oversees 26 Senate seats and runs weekly Senate meetings, also noted the importance of senator-to-student communication in producing student-geared policies and resolutions.
Senators are currently actively working to identify their community’s needs and be an “active ear” and are aware of issues like the housing crisis, food insecurity and COVID-related social apathy, according to Schaefer. In addition, senators work closely with Boards and Commissions, where students can get involved with strategic task forces that support specific causes. Senate elections occur in the spring quarter of every school year, but Schaefer encouraged students to get involved in the community at their own pace and reminded students that they belong to the spaces they inhabit.
Office of the External Vice President for Statewide Affairs
As one of the executive branches’ most externally facing branches, External Vice President for Statewide Affairs (EVPSA) and President of the UC Student Association Esmeralda Quintero-Cubillan says that the office is focused on empowering marginalized students in their office and educating the student body about the resources and activism opportunities that they provide.
“[We are] pushed away from the student body because of the nature of our work,” Quintero-Cubillan explained.
The office works to represent UC students on a statewide and federal level by organizing lobbying trips and pushing for student-centric reform, she said, something that all students are encouraged to get involved in. Currently, the office is developing a curriculum for first- and second-year students, as well as a variety of fellowship programs that can be designed to fit students’ individual interests within the field. Currently representing over 24,000 students, Quintero-Cubillan explains her personal work as “a million meetings” with a variety of elected officials, student organizers and activists and representatives from other schools and student organizations.
She aims to utilize those resources within the office of the EVPSA to provide students with as much education and opportunity within student government and activist spaces as possible.
Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs
The Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) represents the interests of the UCSB student body to the Santa Barbara County area and local Isla Vista agencies, working to bridge the gap between UCSB students and their larger community, according to current EVPLA Shannon Sweeney.
Sweeney’s office has been working with local agencies to plan the possibility of in-person events and ensure a safe campus reopening. In addition, the office is working toward ensuring tenants’ rights alongside the I.V. Tenants Union and helping students who are struggling to secure housing.
The office also aims to help students by expanding the Restorative Justice Program, which helps students to clear minor in possession and public intoxication charges from I.V. resident records. The EVPLA office also works in conjunction with the I.V. Community Supervisors’ Board to facilitate ongoing collaboration and projects. Sweeney also encouraged students looking to get involved with student leadership roles to apply for a fellowship program — which is how she first got her start in the EVPLA office.
Office of the Student Advocate General
The Office of the Student Advocate General aims to “facilitate open and honest communication between students and the university” per legal code. The office utilizes case workers within the office to help students with individual disputes and problems that they might face, according to Student Advocate General Geovany Lucero.
“You’re able to come to us and ask for that advocacy,” Lucero explained.
The office takes on cases ranging from plagiarism to student organization disputes and works to ensure that students know their rights and are educated about disciplinary processes. In addition, the office can provide students with counsel and advice during any university-mandated processes that might be occurring, although all services are entirely confidential.
According to Lucero, his office is reaching out to students and offering services proactively in case they were unaware that such services existed.
“We can guarantee you a space where you will be listened to, you will be heard and [where you] will be taken seriously,” they said. “We will do everything that we can with the knowledge and power that we have to fight for a result that you can be happy with or a resource that will definitely have your back and help you out.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 10 of the Sept. 23, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.